HANNA v. U.S.
Annotate this Case
394 U.S. 1015 (1969)
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U.S. Supreme Court
HANNA v. U.S. , 394 U.S. 1015 (1969)
394 U.S. 1015
Kenneth Herbert HANNA, petitioner,
Supreme Court of the United States
May 5, 1969
Guy Johnson, for petitioner.
Solicitor General Griswold, Assistant Attorney General Wilson, Beatrice Rosenberg and Sidney M. Glazer, for the United States.
Petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Petitioner asks that we review the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirming his convictions for defrauding the telephone company in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343 and for use of interstate commerce facilities for illegal gambling in violation of 18 U.S. C.
1084 and 1952. The only evidence against petitioner was obtained by the telephone company's action in tapping his telephone line or was the product of information gained from that tap. The company became suspicious that petitioner was using a 'blue box' to avoid payment for long-distance telephone calls. A 'blue box' is an electronic signaling device which can be used to bypass the equipment which automatically records tolls on direct-dialed long-distance calls. An electronic device-which did not record the content of any conversations-confirmed the presence on the line of the 2,600-cycle tone characteristic of the operation of a 'blue box.' Company security officers then connected to petitioner's line a tape recorder which began recording the conversation on the line whenever the 2, 600-cycle tone appeared and which automatically cut off after 35 to 45 seconds.
Mr. Justice FORTAS, with whom Mr. Justice DOUGLAS joins, dissenting.
The recording instrument was used for about three weeks. The FBI was then informed of the recordings, and the recordings were turned over to a grand jury in response to a subpoena. Using the recorded information, the FBI obtained a warrant and conducted a search of petitioner's home.
Section 605 of the Federal Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. 605, prohibits the interception and divulgence of telephone messages. [Footnote 1] It is argued-and the Fifth Circuit held-that the information was not unlawfully obtained because 605 excludes from its prohibitions certain divulging of telephone messages by [394 U.S. 1015 , 1017]